Professor Ann Skelton

Abridged Curriculum Vitae



Professor Ann Skelton (BA LLB LLD) has been a human rights lawyer in South Africa for 25 years, specialising in children’s rights. She was at the forefront of child law reform through the SA Law Reform Commission. Skelton is a Professor of Law at the University of Pretoria where she holds the UNESCO Chair in Education Law in Africa. She is an advocate who has been played a leading role in landmark litigation, including education cases. She has published widely both locally and internationally. In 2012 she was awarded the Honorary Worlds Children’s Prize. She is currently a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and she chaired the expert committee that drafted the Abidjan Principles on state’s obligations regarding public education and the regulation of private of education.

Position, academic & professional qualifications

Skelton is a Professor in the Department of Private Law and the holder of the UNESCO Chair: Education Law in Africa. She holds the degrees BA LLB (UKZN) LLD (Pret.) Her doctoral thesis title was ‘The influence of the theory and practice of restorative justice in South Africa’s with special reference to child justice’. She is an internationally recognised scholar, and she holds a B1 National Research Foundation rating and she is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). She is admitted as an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa.

Academic & professional experience

Skelton was appointed as a Full Professor in the Department of Private Law in 2014. At that time, she had been working for 10 years in the Department, as Director of the Centre for Child Law, and was already an internationally recognised scholar. She was appointed as incumbent in the UNESCO Chair in 2013. Prior to joining the University, Ann was a public prosecutor (1986-1988), A director at Lawyers for Human Rights (1988-1999), and a technical assistance project leader for the UNDP(1999-2004). She played a major role in child law reform: She chaired the SALRC committee that drafted the Child Justice Act, and was a member of the Committee that drafted the Children’s Act.

Skelton is a Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. She currently holds the Rotating Chair: Enforcement of children’s rights, at the University of Leiden, Netherlands.

Skelton initiated the strategic litigation work at the Centre for Child Law and has appeared as counsel in many landmark cases, including 12 cases in the South African Constitutional Court.

Skelton was nominated by the South African government and elected by the General Assembly of the United Nations to be a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, a UN Nations Treaty Body. Her first term of office was for four years, from March 2017 to Feb 2021, and she has been re-elected to serve a second term of office from March 2021 to Feb 2025.

Teaching and supervision activities

Skelton co-ordinates and teaches the LLM in Child Law, the final year LLB elective Education Law (ONR 420) and the final year elective Child Law (KID 410). She supervises LLB, LLM and LLD students in her subject areas.

International teaching

Skelton currently, teaches a course on Children’s Rights in the International Masters in Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford.

She is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.

She is the current holder of the newly established Rotating Chair: Enforcement of Children’s Rights, based at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Representative publications

  1. ‘Children’s rights: Social change through the application of hard and soft international law’ in D Bradlow and D Hunter (eds) Advocating social change through International Law: Exploring the choice between hard and soft international law (2019) Brill: Leiden
  2.  ‘A hiding to something: Reduction of violence against children in South Africa’s justice system’ in W O’Brien and C Foussard (eds) Violence Against Children in the Criminal Justice System: Global Perspectives on Prevention (2019) Routledge: Abingdon
  3. ‘Children’s rights’ in J Brickhill (ed) Public Interest Litigation in South Africa (2018) Juta: Claremont 978-1-48512-816-8
  4. ‘Child justice in South Africa: Application of international instruments by the Constitutional Court’ (2018) 26 International Journal of Children’s Rights 391-422
  5. ‘International Children’s Rights Law: Complaints and Remedies’ in: In: Kilkelly and Liefaard (eds) International Human Rights of Children Springer: Singapore (2018)
  6. ‘S v Williams: A springboard for further debate about corporal punishment’ 2015 Acta Juridica 336-359
  7. ‘Leveraging funds for school infrastructure: The South African ‘mud schools’ case 2014 (39) International Journal of Educational Development 59-63
  8. ‘The role of the courts in ensuring the right to a basic education in a democratic South Africa: a critical evaluation of recent education case law’ 2013 46(1) De Jure 1-23
  9. ‘The automatic review of child offenders’ sentences’ 2013 44 SA Crime Quarterly 37-44
  10. ‘How far will the courts go in ensuring the right to a basic education?’ 2012 (27) Southern African Public Law 392-408
  11. ‘The South African Constitutional Court’s restorative justice jurisprudence 2013 1(1) Restorative Justice: An International Journal 122-145
  12. ‘The role of the courts in ensuring the right to a basic education in a democratic South Africa: a critical evaluation of recent education case law’ 2013 46(1) De Jure 1-23.


  1. Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
  2. Chairperson Advisory Board of the Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty
  3. International Ambassador for the British Society of Criminology)
  4. International Law Association, member of the study group on cross-border violations of children’s rights
  5. Editorial board: Peace Human Rights Governance (University of Padova, Italy)
  6. Editorial board: Youth Justice: An International Journal, published by Sage Journals
  7. Former Chair of the Expert Drafting Group: Abidjan Principles.

Awards and Prizes

1.  Exceptional Achievers Award presented in 2018 by the University of Pretoria

2. ‘Justice without borders award’ recognising 20 years of work on juvenile justice,presented by the International Juvenile Justice Observancy, Paris.

3. Honorary Worlds Children’s Prize presented in 2012 by Queen Sylvia of Sweden.



Email: [email protected]

Tel:  +27 (0)12 420 2307


[May 2021]

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